tv [untitled] February 5, 2012 12:30am-1:00am EST
for presenting what she thought was a positive role model to her students. the story gets out to the media. suddenly they don't look so good. they invite the teacher back. and you as a teacher say. >> nothing. >> that's right. okay. and i would -- personally, i'd do the same thing. you capital support me when the heat's on, obviously i can't trust you. it's a sad story. it should have had a much more positive ending. there should have been end ugh. here's where i go as a teacher, i think i'm about done with these. i'm goimg to take these off. go right ahead. >> i want to make the point really quickly, i just completely disagree with kevin because when we were talking about -- >> on what point? >> when we were talking about being in the library and not
allowing the children to read certain books. i disagree because emmett teal was a child. malcolm x was a child. i'm sure they heard the word nigger and much worse words used derogatory. i think about in the aspect of culture it's not that that was hidden. he was hung and drastically beaten. i'm sure they called him more than just nigger during that time. i didn't agree with the fact that he wouldn't show the book to children.
>> well, he just said that he said he wouldn't show the book to children. >> well, no, he just said that samuel clemens said he didn't want the book shown to children. >> sorry. my mistake, kevin. >> and that's okay. here's how it goes. there's also a point of view about what young people should see and not see. but some people are more afraid of litigation than they are of
intellectual freedom. okay? and intellectual freedom for some people is dangerous. how dare you be thinking? i didn't bring you here to think. true and false. get the hell out. but the idea is in here, i'm at least hoping you guys are encouraging the idea that i trust you to come to your own own conclusions. offer not supposed to be mirroring my thoughts. you're supposed to be coming up with different ideas what you think. do you have to be black to be offended by the word nigger? okay. well, i'm not picking on you guys although i love you madly. why would you be offended if you're not black. let's deal with it. i heard a source that i rarely hear. please pass the microphone to sharpie back here. give it to me young girl. >> because they can have friends that it hurts them so it hurts them to know that their friends are hurt. >> so you can have a personal involvement with people who might be offended by the word. >> yeah. >> thank you. someone else. is this one working? go for it, young one. >> it's not even just your friends.
it's a race, humanity itself. once you bring one person back, you bring everyone back into martin luther king. when one of my brothers is in jail, i'm in jail also. the idea is that everybody's affected by the same thing. i'm hoping i didn't hurt my microphone when i put my hands on my chest. it's an important to have appreciation. i'm talking to students about race and they say well, it's not a big deal. is that a point of privilege because for some people, it's a point every day. we talked about personal encounters. that's an important to an understanding of literature. when i talked to you about my personal experience with the n word, i'm old enough to have been on the edge of the civil rights movement. i never saw the a nigger sign, i never saw whites only sign. if i went to the back of the bus, it was because i wanted to. it wasn't because i had no choice. there was no sign on the bus that said black behind this line. thanks to the works of others i never had to experience that. i experienced close enough to have marched for important causes.
and for me, the memory of that time even though it is not my own is still alive. now we're several generations from that.it easy to forget wha costs people not to have the that word used on black memorabilia, little dolls that sh b big smiling faces eating watermelon with the big sausage lips and outrageous nose, fright wig hair. i collect that for a very if teach, you should not forget the past. there will come a time, and i believe it, that's why i collect. there will come a time when all of those things are gone and people will pretend it never existed. this is the more severe reason why i do this is that for the last person who comes out of a concentration camp had numbers tattooed on their arm, when they die, now all the stories of concentration camps go to the places people who deny the
camps. it's on video. it's in artifacts and it's not in the person telling you the real story. so who then decides what's true and what's not? okay. when we think about the n word, it's not just a word that hecam was another use for the word. okay? it's not just a word that i'm coming after a white person for using because i think they don't have a right to use it. what a waste of our time. word, it should till be debated as far as i'm concerned. if we don't understand what the word nigger meant and all of it figure out why. why was it so important for somebody to decide you can't use n-i-g-g-e-r why is that so important in who is controlling who and why? that's what this is about. when these two were doing, whic
especially for of the reasons we've been discussing, partly because a lot of people don't know they exist. the controversy has been so much people are like uncle tom's cabin, doesn't that have the n word? no, we can't use that. huck finn, how many times did they use it, 19? the idea is that how come we can't use that in our classroom? because it might cause controversy and somebody might suit and somebody might be unhappy. you must be kidding. we as intellectuals, we as academicians, explorers and readers of the literature have a responsibility. for those of you who are discovering the creation of literature, you have a responsibility, do you not? can you create anything you want in the world that you create in literature reflecting history or not and feel comfortable in that creation, or must you precensor yourself to decide that i can't offend anybody so i can't write this thing?
first part of the semester, i gave you an assignment about creating a piece of literature. gave you the freedom to write whatever you want. did anybody precensor themselves about topics you can't handle even though i said as far as if i am concerned, everyone in this classroom is an adult. that is your freedom, that is your right. anybody recensor themselves? so everybody wrote the language they thought was appropriate? anybody use strong language in their pieces? feel funny or odd about doing that? >> in my piece, i actually had like a sex scene but it wasn't like graphic. it was in there and for a little bit i felt like should i put this in. but i feel like it made it real. i'm not going to just -- it's a college, too. we're in college. so yeah. >> it's important that this
discussion take place. some people don't understand when we understand about censorship and historical censorship, i remember in our open discussion in class, there were a number of people who decided that forsake of history alone we should leave the word where it is. whose people believe that here? we're talking the about the "n" word. why did you think that? >> because if we take the word away, then we're pretending that it never happened. we're trying to erase history and we can't erase shift because the only way that history doesn't repeat itself is if you learn from it. >> excellent. >> so we pretend that you know, slavery never happened and all of that. then whose to say it's not going to happen again sometime in the future. >> if the memory fades, you're right, how do we know where the mistake was made. did i see your hand in the back. >> okay. over here, please. thank you. >> i say yes and no.
i say yes because if you leave it, the kids will be like since they use it, why can't i use it. so it shouldn't mean anything because they don't understand the real meaning of it. and that i think no because changing it can change our history and how we got our freedom today. >> person using the "n" word and you were concerned? >> i don't remember. >> younger brother or sister, nephew, you said you heard them using the word? i knew there was more than one person that told a story. oh, yeah, wait a minute, i remember that. no, it's okay. here and then in the back, please. >> i think anybody who's old enough to understand the plot and rehehewords in it and comprehend all that is probably old if you have to understand the use of the n word and >> so you trust the readership. you're not worried about them
being offended or finding out about a taboo topic? >> no, because i think anybody you would want to protect from that word like maybe a it past like the second paragraph and understand what's happening in the book. >> okay. >> so because the book is written obviously towards a certain age group, you feel that group will be mature enough to handle the material? >> yes, just like with r rated movies and everything else. >> somebody had their hand in the back? >> which point are you addressing? >> why it shouldn't be taken out. >> please. >> i think it's going to create a domino effect. you take this out, we'll say you can't take other words out and censor them. it's going to keep going on and on and on. you're not going to be able to protect children from everything. the slippery slope. the idea is if we do this today, what's going to be vulnerable tomorrow. did you want to jump in?
>> one thing, it shouldn't be taken out because it was his work and you can't change someone's work. >> the right of the artist to create what he thinks is important should remain intact. thank you, my brother. of i see two hands i have not seen before. could you pass the microphone down here, please. debra, go right ahead. >> i wanted to say he talked about when you wanted to write the paper. it's important to keep some words in there because it reflects what really happened to you. i also believe if you read uncle tom's cabin and huckleberry fin, there were kids involved. slavery. there were kids involved in this thing. if you take it out, you're not helping them because it could happen to them. why are we keeping help from understanding what really happened. we could educate them. there could be other ways of getting across to kids instead of i don't want you to see what happened. why not just educate them and let them find a way of dealing
with it themselves. >> you think the discussion is important more than the omission? >> yes. you. >> i think some people want to switch the words so they can avoid tough questions when children ask for. and i want to point out that the "n" word is a reference word. and that tell us that there is a difference of race in this country. >> could you say ta again? i want to be sure everyone heard you clearly please. >> the n word is a reference word. it tells us there as a difference of race in this country. >> thank you, i appreciate it. yeah, you want to jump into the conversation? please. >> i just want to say that i feel like we underestimate children and if you will just kind of look in uncle tom's cabin, even little eva, little girl, she was smarter than her mother who was an adult and she knew and could tell that there
this is not okay and this is not right. i feel like a lot of times we underestimate children and don't even give them the opportunity to kind of figure out what's right and what's wrong. >> the interesting thing to me -- thank you. give it to him. the interesting thing about this that the comparison, i don't know if we made it in our previous conversations in class was during the 1950s, there was a series of comic books, horror comic books called ec comics. i absorbed them through my skin. i loved it. there were pictures of people being hacked to death and being stabbed and buried alive. but they came under the censorship of senatorial hearings in the 1950s because they're saying this is horrible stuff. kids seeing this stuff will have nightmares and become juvenile delinquents. here's something they missed when you speak of kids being underestimated, i always saw through the moral of the story. if you saw somebody kill
somebody and thought they get it away with it, karma caught up with them. get the true part of the story or the more visual images or the more visceral images and we discussed the nature of the story structure and drama. it is not always the most physical action. it is the moment of highest dramatic action that is the most important. even as a young man reading, i got that. it was not the creature comes from the bog and they're trying to kill him. it was he at one point had been a guy who had been done evil and was cursed with this. it was a moral complex story and it didn't have to be so much more complex i couldn't get it. debra. >> i also wanted to point out that if you look at society today, a lot has changed. like these kids know a lot of so like, they're being exposed to stuff like day by day being exposed to new things. i don't think we should keep it
from them. i believe if you change the word to slave, she said she's more offended by slave than nigger. so like you said, there's always going to be something. someone is always going to be offended with something and then it keeps changing and changes history. >> i'd like to address the issue you talked about for young people. one point we haven't talked to before. it is this, is that there was a point in time where children were considered to be small adults. if you live on the farm, i don't have to give you a lesson. sex education. i just point you out to the yard where the animals are. if you are a young person living in a one-room house and your parents are in the same bedroom as you are, i don't have to give you a sexual education. all you have to do is be awake at night. since the turn of the last century, we have changed in our idea about instead of kids being small adults, no, they're so precious and so delicate.
no one wants to talk about what it was like beforehand and kids all survived and no one turned into a mass murderer that we know of. the idea is, how we treat young people supposed to how we treat adults. censorship is for you as well as kids. we don't want to learn about sex? yeah, well turn off the cable. you won't have to worry about sex ever again. i want you to have appreciation kids are not just a specialized argument. this is taken out for adults, as well. did you have a question or a point? >> if everyone's word about the kids like reading it and they do end up changing the word and what are they going to do, like make everybody throw out their old books or make them lock it up so their kids aren't going to get it? you put it on a book shelf and the kids could easily read it. >> or go onto the, you know, onto the net and read it.
remember, we're only talking about publishing the word, okay? but it's tied into your point about slippery slope, the idea where do we go from there. after one publisher does it, maybe the social stigma becomes so large we start having everybody change it. it's a question we need to ask. thank you. >> i just have one more point. i just think it's a really shallow way of thinking to think if you read the adventures of huckleberry finn or uncle tom's cabin that the only thing you're going to take from it is they used the "n" word. >> it's a simple point of view. >> in both books, the word is not just used by white people but by black people. it's used by many just to describe or in a general situation of who they are. >> how is that different from o as well. >> you won't necessarily say to
your own child, get off the bed, slave, or something like that. >> i'm going to save that example for the rest of my class. that was good. >> i have a question. >> please. >> i'm wondering about huckleberry finn and jim being an ex-slave. >> sure. >> calling him slave still, wouldn't that skew the story. >> can he yes, he's slave jim. >> they are change thing the word "in" that book to -- it completely alters the story. >> there are certain cases where to change it seems superfluous. a hand. oh, please. give this man a microphone. >> i went back about the "n" word. >> please. >> a lot of people would hide the word because they don't want something bad, repeat something bad about them. >> you don't want a negative part of history being brought to light? >> exactly.
because a lot of people like if you say united states, the first nation in the world, it is nice. >> absolutely. slaves. the fact that we hear only good stuff about them, that would hide the word. >> that's a very good point. idea there's more to american history than just stories about flag waving and winning battles. we talked about before that the creation of the american republic could not have been done without the unpd it's an u our history that we have to talk about.
well i think we should talk about but some people obviously do not. did i see your hand up? i was just making it up. right here, please. if your face hasn't changed i have like an example kind th of like what we said that kids learn so much. my sister told me when they went to get my nephew at school around 1:00, she saw a little girl, she was a black girl. it's kind of like racism but one girl called her fat. she was trying to jump over the table to go fight her. she was maybe a fourth, fifth grader. how would they learn unless it was from their parents or somebody. so it goes to show you that whatever the older crowd does, they will follow. if we use the word like nigger, like you're a nigger. they're going to say that, too. they're going to pick it up and continue using it. >> it's not going anywhere. please pass the microphone down here. >> i just want to say also, you know, it's kind of going to your comment and what she said earlier about the kids.
>> at least in they read knit a book like this, they're going to understand what the real meaning behind it was. kids these days don't know what the real meaning is behind it. so they just throw it around and use it randoheunderstand that it came from suffering from their ancestors, they'll stop using it like a -- >> it ties into what we're saying. the historical context is important. very good point. we can't read it without it. when we move a little further into theater, it's coming next to you -- when we talk about theater, one of the most popular plays in american theater is "a raisin in the sun". censorship already in place. they do not use the word "abortion." what do they use? you have mamma saying, when ruth says she's going to go see the
doctor and the mamma says, you're going to go see that woman who does things she's got no business doing. that was her way of saying abortionist. we have censorship in one of the most popular plays in american history. even there, we have censorship in place. we have to understand the times. everybody -- every female in this room was born after 1973, which is to suggest you have never known a time when abortions were not legal. 1959, they were absolutely illegal. for anyone who had what we now call an unwanted pregnancy, it was a nightmare to behold. no one wants to talk about that pre time. even though, you never know, it could come back again where abortions are illegal. you need to understand history to get a better since of where we are. and with literature, thank god, it can give us a window into history. literature based on history.
how are y'all doing? everybody okay? listen, i'm going to start wrapping up. are there any other questions we want to deal with before we go? please, octavia? >> i just wanted to say that i was thinking when we were talking about the "n" word, oprah winfrey and jay-z has been on stage and both sides have different feelings about the word. jay-z said, i'm paraphrasing, that he says it in rap because -- i don't want to say endearment. but it has a different twist on how oprah winfrey was perceiving it. personally for me i'm been called the "n" word and the "s" word in the same sentence. it's not loving, endearing or compassionate. i don't care what you put on the
end of it, whatever it is, it stays the same. it's a negative connotation. and i just think that we really need to educate as these women were saying. we need to educate our society on where that word comes from historically. it's a disgusting word. >> what do you think using "n" word in that conversation takes place? >> say that again to me, i'm sorry. >> you're saying we need to educate people about the word. but when we're saying the "n" word we're not saying the word but we're certainly referring to it. >> well, if i had a child and if i was talking to them about the word, i would say -- i would talk to them about where the word came from. >> would you say the actual word to them or would you say the "n" word. >> i would say the actual word, whether they're biracial, interracial, whoever they are.
they are from my side of my family and they are part african-american -- irish, too, but they're african-american -- >> they need to understand. >> they need to understand to negative connotation to it. >> absolutely. did you have another point? i'm messing with you. here we go! i started a fire. take your time. >> no, i do agree that i appall the idea of someone changing an author's work. i hate that, but it could be a whole money scheme for new south. but the scholar, his reason for changing it is to preserve it. >> he is -- >> he is a plain scholar. i understand when i say -- when i say preserve -- he's changing the text. but if you had a choice between
letting the book disappear into obscurity or changing a word and letting it be read in school so it's still carried on, i would choose the latter. >> and there's a discussion for why the word was changed. >> the book itself is a great book. that one word does not make the book. i would rather choose the latter and have people read it still rather than witt disap i thank you. another point down here? >> he just made a good point about how the book is not just about that. but i think it should still be in there. but the book could also be like for adults when they read this, it's also a very motivating story. so not only are you getting a sense of history, but at the same time you're getting the motivation and inspiration from the book to do maybe something
in the present day that you're encouraged to do after reading the book because you just see how strong the characters are and how they never give up and the hard times they go through. and especially today, a lot of people are going through hard times. so it really would make society motivated. i still think it's a great novel to read. >> absolutely. thank you. >> i wanted to ask if anyone's seen "the help". >> it was a very good point. >> it was really hard for me to watch it. and when i had gotten finished watching it, my mother and my faer i was in tears. i was in absolute tears. >> what upset you? >> i think what upset me the most was that we as a human race could be so evil to another person because of color -- >> of some small difference. >> of some small difference. and i had said before, i've been call the "n" word and the "s"
word in the same sentence. and i was spoken to by a mentally challenged person. i was trying to help him. >> and this was his response. >> yes. and a friend of mine was working the same place and she was angry. you could see it in her face. she was livid. and it just -- we both heard the word but how we took it -- and my heart just broke. your parents can only tell you so much about this world. that's just it. prejudice right now, racism, it's still here. it's behind closed doors. people will say things in certain communities, people will say things in certain groups, but it's still here. and it is absolutely heart-wrenching. what do you do as a society, as a nation when you have children that are interracial, biracial, native american, whatever they are? what do you say to them?